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Oriental Trading

A Relationship, Not An Acquaintance

A Relationship, Not An Acquaintance

Johnny, a very bright 5 year old, told his daddy he’d like to have a baby brother and, along with his request, offered to do whatever he could to help. His dad, a very bright 35 year old, paused for a moment and then replied, ” I’ll tell you what, Johnny, if you pray every day for two months for a baby brother, I guarantee that God will give you one!” 
       
      Johnny responded eagerly to his dad’s challenge and went to his bedroom early that night to start praying for a baby brother. 
       
      He prayed every night for a whole month, but after that time, he began to get skeptical. He checked around the neighborhood and found out that what he thought was going to happen, had never occurred in the history of the neighborhood. You just don’t pray for two months and then, whammo- a new baby brother. So, Johnny quit praying. After another month, Johnny’s mother went to the hospital. When she came back home, Johnny’s parents called him into the bedroom. He cautiously walked into the room, not expecting to find anything, and there was a little bundle lying right next to his mother. His dad pulled back the blanket and there was — not one baby brother, but two!! His mother had twins! 
       
      Johnny’s dad looked down at him and said, “Now aren’t you glad you prayed?” 
       
      Johnny hesitated a little and then looked up at his dad and said, “Yes, but aren’t you glad I quit when I did?” (http://jokes.christiansunite.com )

This was too funny not to share. My mind has been on prayer a lot lately. Last week I released “My Prayer Journal” for children and youth, a guided prayer journal to download, print and start praying. I want so much for kids to understand that God is always here and wants a relationship with each one of us. He doesn’t want us sitting on the sidelines just waving now and again. It’s easy for all of us to put God on the back burner and forget he’s there. When you can’t see Him and get an immediate answer to our questions or troubles, we sometimes turn to other people instead of our Heavenly Father. No one has the power or wisdom that God has. He will always choose to do what is best for us. Now… we just have to get this message across to the kids in way it sinks in. We will need a lot of repetition for sure.

There are so many examples of prayer in the bible. Our we teaching our children how to pray, how often and what for? Our we teaching them who we are praying to and what our attitudes should be? In scriptures, talking to God is not some flippant conversation. And when anyone was in the presence of God, they were full of fear and reverence. Our children need taught to truly respect God while understanding that he truly cares for us.

If you’re interested, I created a Play Dough Mat to teach The Lord’s Prayer. Download a copy here. It keeps things simple, in a way they understand while they have fun so they want to do it again and again. I love it when kids enjoy learning about God!

Cleaning Up the Classroom

Cleaning Up the Classroom

I walked down the hallways and into the classrooms as an overwhelming feeling came over me. It all needs so much attention! The artwork down the hallway is pictures of students, which I like except that the pictures are of students that moved on to middle school a few years ago! The bulletin boards are falling down. The supplies on the shelves are in disarray. One classroom has a broken lamp while another has a vacuum in a corner. This isn’t good for anyone; not the kids that come every week or the visitors here for the first time. We need a classroom clean up and organization overhaul soon.

Yep! It is definitely time for a thorough cleaning and some updating! Being back to school season works out great since everything’s on sale. I may not be able to paint the rooms right this second and do a major complete overhaul, but I can certainly clean up, get organized and give the rooms a fresh look with some simple decorating. I made a checklist for myself that you may find helpful too. Click here to download and print for free.

Start downloading and cutting coupons, find the sales and go shopping! Your classrooms probably need fresh crayons (use the old ones in a melting project down the road to make shaped multi-color crayons), pencils, glue and more. For mine, we do hands on lessons every week so I noticed my Play-Doh drying out and Play Foam was not sticking together so well anymore. Add some colorful organizers for take home papers, folder games and more. This is a FUN part of the job; it’s just a matter of making the time (which I find myself running out of these days). When you do this, please send me pictures! I want to see the before and after’s!!

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Sermon Notes Pages to Engage Children in the Pulpit Lesson

Sermon Notes Pages to Engage Children in the Pulpit Lesson

It’s a new school year and a great time to develop new good habits. At my congregation, everyone is together for the first half of services. We sing and pray together, then take communion. Following this, our K-3rd graders are dismissed to Children’s Church. But what about my fourth and fifth graders, or even the middle school kids? I looked around the auditorium disappointed. Kids galore were playing on digital devices, some wearing headphones and others simply had the volume muted. They were not learning about God nor were they learning how to behave properly in a worship service during a sermon. Granted, the sermon is above their little heads, but it still a great time to learn how to listen. What to do about it…

Not everyone is on board yet, but I will keep working on it with both the kids and their parents. I saw a number of “sermon notes” options for kids but none that hit all the areas I really wanted to zoom in on. I want kids to listen for scriptures, for things they don’t understand and things they think are interesting. I developed sermon notes pages just for them that I’m happy to share with you. Each week I print out new copies for them to pick up before services. I’ve even got a 3-hole punch next to the forms in case they would like to keep these notes in a binder. I plan on asking our preacher to remind them to pull these out when it’s time to pay attention. By directly talking to them from the pulpit, they are included and will feel important. I’m hoping this helps get them involved.

Now for the part that is required to get participating in something they really don’t want to- incentive! Honestly, I don’t like this part, but it’s important. Think about it. You are starting a new diet. You want to lose weight or get fit but it’s never easy in the beginning. By incentivizing yourself with a small treat at certain points, you work hard to meet that goal. It’s part of being human… we will chase the carrot if we want it badly enough. Back to the kids. After the sermon, we have an invitation song. During that song, kids who have completed their sermon notes form can be the first to exit to the foyer where they find me with prizes. They can choose from pencils, trinkets, gum and more. I keep these things very inexpensive. (Another thought is playground time. They would have 5 minutes on the playground with friends while services wrapped up and parents pick them up.)

I would love to hear ideas of how you get kids listening and learning how to worship. Comment hear or feel free to send me an email at courtney@raisekidsforchrist.com

Combat the Senseless Violence

Combat the Senseless Violence

There was a recent shooting at a fair where children were shot and killed. One was just six years old. I can still see his picture in my head, and it breaks my heart. The senseless killings, horrific acts of violence, are etched in my brain. Why are people doing these things and how do we stop them?

First, prayer. I believe in the power of prayer with all my heart; however, I understand that there is evil in this world and it will be here until our Savior returns. The first question is why? Why are people going into schools and public places to randomly shoot and kill people? In most instances, we learn that the shooter felt wronged and was in pain. They were bullied, made fun or simply ignored. They wanted to be heard or desired revenge. The why doesn’t make it acceptable; but understanding the why offers insight into the solution.

God created us with a need for others in our lives. In a perfect world, we would all love one another and act kindly. Imagine a world where the person you passed in the halls of school simply smiled at you or offered a kind hello. Imagine the popular crowd inviting the loner dressed in all black to come sit with them at lunch. Imagine a girl rejecting a boy’s request for a date with respect rather than laughing about him with her friends. Yes, a world like this might be the answer to peaceful living.

So, what is the solution? It’s written throughout scripture… to love. As a nation, we need to spread the message to show love, kindness and respect to everyone.  As soon as we all realize we each have our own shortcomings, that no one is perfect, maybe then we can accept the strange person we see next door or down the hall at work; after all, he was made in God’s image just like you and I.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. -Ephesians 4:2

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. -John 15:12

As children’s ministry leaders, bible class teachers and parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children this very important lesson. Whether they are the popular kid or the one being bullied, showing love and respect to others will help and it is what God calls us to do. As a new school year begins, challenge your children to find someone who is alone and include them. Whether they are the new kid or established for years, there’s always someone else. No matter what age we are, going to a new place where we do not know anyone is scary and uncomfortable. Your child could be the one to put a smile on another child’s face and make their day much more enjoyable!

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